We all have unique convictions.
We were all created to be unique. God gave us different parents, different surroundings, different dispositions and different callings. This is a recipe for variety and it is God’s good design.
Not only will we have different taste in food and music, but we will also have differing convictions. We are always going to be more liberal than one person and more conservative than another, and that is okay. As a matter of fact, it’s good! That means that you aren’t following people, you’re following the Holy Spirit. You’re not looking at the girl next to you in dance class to learn the fancy footwork; rather, your eyes are on the Instructor.
The Bible never says, “be as conservative as possible.” No, it says to live free from the bondage of sin, ask for wisdom, gain discernment, listen to the Holy Spirit, read Scripture and enjoy the gifts God gives us!
I’ve realized that if I accept the gray areas in people’s lives and respect them in their own personal walks with the Lord, I’ll end up with a lot more friends than if I hold them to my own personal standards. There is nothing wrong with personal standards until they become impersonal. This doesn’t mean that you accept sin as “okay for that Christian” but it does mean that only some things are “black and white” sin, and what is sin for you may not be sin for them.
We are not to pass judgment.
I’ve learned that there is a massive difference between disagreeing and attacking. I’ve also come to know that there is no reason a person has to choose between being opinionated and being kind.
I didn’t realize until recently how clearly and often the Bible speaks on legalism and judging. In Romans, chapter 14, Paul warns us to never quarrel over opinions, to pass judgment on one another or to discourage those we see as “weaker” Christians. He also says to “pursue what makes for peace and mutual up-building.”
You see, our convictions should come from two places: the Holy Spirit within and the Word without. The convictions we get from the Word on black-and-white matters of sin are meant for every believer, but the convictions we get from the Holy Spirit are for you and I individually. These are personal convictions and they are pure, so long as we keep them personal. The moment I place my personal convictions on anyone other than myself, I’ve passed judgment.
Many times, I form convictions that I think others would benefit from. I think I’d have a much bigger influence on those I share with — not to mention express a more Christ-like attitude toward them — if I learned to share how I’ve benefited from home education and not how it is the only way to do things.
Scripture is sufficient.
The Bible is sufficient, but it is only so long. There is not a book on hemlines or specific sitcoms. There is scripture addressing every issue, broadly and clearly. It is when we begin to put things into subcategories and search for law within the law that we feel that the Bible is not longer sufficient.
We all know that the Bible asks us to dress modestly, but one woman could feel convicted that this means head-to-toe fabric while another will feel free to wear shorts.
One woman could keep herself pure by never touching a man until he is her husband while another woman might kiss on her first date. Is one blood-bought woman really holier than another?
Even the internet is a place for peace-making.
This is such a difficult issue within the Church, especially in the age of anonymous comments and the internet. I’ve been blogging since I was fourteen. I’ve seen my share of name-calling and mud-slinging in the blogosphere. I’ve read articles which were so judgmental and unmerciful that they left my blood boiling.
The fact is that there are a wide variety of people listening online: no matter what you say, someone is going to disagree, and perhaps be offended. No matter how much we argue, no matter how clear our points are, we will never, ever all end up agreeing on everything. And honestly, I don’t think we’re supposed to! God created us all as unique beings, and that results in unique opinions and unique callings. Your convictions and callings will never line up perfectly with mine.
So before I comment on a post, reply with my own post, or roll my eyes at something I’ve read on the Internet, I’m learning to ask myself a few questions.
I’m learning to filter what I say and do (and type!) with these criteria:
- Does this make for peace?
- Is this for our mutual up-building?
- Am I passing judgment?
- Am I saying anything to someone online that I couldn’t say to his or her face?
- Am I being gentle and bringing grace, even when I feel certain I am right?
- Have I meditated on Romans 14 and the book of 1st Corinthians more than I’ve discussed this issue?
A prayer for my opinions.
May I learn to let my opinions remain what they are…my opinions. Something to be shared, not nailed on my door. Something to hold loosely, despite their strength. Something to be kept far away from my beliefs, for the two would mix instantly.
And let me be graceful toward friends, families and strangers. For no two of us are alike and that’s the way it’s meant to be.
And lastly, let me remember that “the faith that you have, keep between yourself and God” (Romans 14:22), because this entire dance is for the Instructor Himself.